Iggy and The Stooges – Escaped Maniacs (MVD Visual)

Escaped Maniacs is the second live DVD to come out of the Stooges reunion, and, like the first one, it proves yet again that they haven’t lost a step live. Forget about last year’s terrible reunion album The Weirdness; these days the only place to witness the greatness of Iggy and the gang is on stage. There aren’t many singers, past or present, who can electrify a crowd like Iggy, and nobody backs him up better than The Stooges. This DVD, taken from a 2005 Belgian concert, showcases a fifteen-song set with thankfully only three new numbers – so you get all of the first two Stooges albums with the exception of “LA Blues”, “Ann” and “We Will Fall”. For some strange reason they play “I Wanna Be Your Dog” twice.  

While the concert is well filmed and has clear sound, the DVD package has a few notable gaffes. For example, you can watch either the Original Version or the Director’s Cut but there’s no explanation of what the difference is. Different track-listing? Different camera angles? Who knows? Also, navigating the menus on the bonus disc is nearly impossible, as there is no cursor or any kind of indication of where you are as you toggle between options. The bonus interviews with the Asheton brothers give a good oral history of the band (although I could really do without hearing Scott Asheton praise Fall Out Boy), but when speaking to Iggy the interviewer suddenly seems nervous, and the questions are bad. I’m happy to hear an hour-long interview with one of the most interesting figures in rock history, but dumb questions like “What’s your favorite color?” are a waste of his and my time. No wonder a visibly bored Mr. Pop starts asking how much time is left less than halfway through the hour-long discussion. Don’t let the crap bonus features take the focus away from the live show, which is totally worth your rock’n’roll dollar.

Iggy and The Stooges – Move Ass Baby (Lemon Recordings)

When is an album by one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands in their prime a waste of time? When it’s Move Ass Baby – a compilation of rare Stooges recordings circa-Raw Power. The problem is simple: all the material on Move Ass Baby is easy to find on other albums. The first five songs are demos from Olympic Studios, and they’re classics. You’ll never hear anybody in the pre-punk world sound as unhinged and wild as Iggy and company do on “Gimme Some Skin” and “I Got A Right”, and “I’m Sick Of You” is one of the greatest garage rock putdowns of all time. Amazing stuff,  but all easily found on other semi-legit Stooges discs, mostly from Bomp Records. The other nine songs come from lo-fi rehearsal tapes of Pop and guitarist James Williamson mucking about on song sketches and a trio of blues covers (“I’m So Glad”, “I’m A Man” and “Mellow Down Easy”). These tapes have some historical value, but they’re so murky that they’re hard to listen to. The final nail in the coffin is that even these barrel-scrapings are available on other Stooges albums.